Sheriff seeking tips in vandalism incidents

Detectives are still investigating a series of possible hate crimes reported Sept. 14 and 15 in Cambria.

In the first incident, the words “fag from 432” were spray painted on a home’s garage door. In the second two incidents, the word “fag” was spray painted on the same door.

The number 432 is a reference to Cambria American Legion Post No. 432. The victim is a member of the Sons of the American Legion, which is affiliated with the post.

“It’s still an open case. We’re still working on it. People are keeping their eyes and ears open to see if something or someone comes forward,” said Sheriff’s Department spokesman Rob Bryn on Tuesday.

State law defines a hate crime as a crime committed in whole or in part because the victim is or is perceived to be of a particular gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or disability, or because they associate with people or a group with those actual or perceived characteristics.

“Whoever the perpetrator was either knows the victim or knows enough about him to know he’s affiliated with the Legion Post,” Bryn said, “so it was clearly not a random crime against an unknown victim.”

The person who did it could also be charged under malicious mischief laws, Bryn said. Conviction on either charge could result in a fine and time in County Jail or state prison, depending on if charges are filed as a felony or misdemeanor.

Those decisions would be up to the district attorney, Bryn added, taking into consideration evidence and statements made by the perpetrator.

“It’s a wobbler,” Bryn said. “It could go either way.”